The Absolute Power of Recognition: Simple Ways to Motivate Your Employees

In today’s world, we don’t always get the luxury of really being recognized for the work we do. There’s an expectation that you should just work hard and that will be satisfaction enough. That’s true, but being recognized is still nice and it has become more powerful than ever in its increased absence.

Even a simple compliment for good work can motivate your employees beyond belief.

David Novak shared his take on the power of recognition in a recent article for HBR. He noticed what he called a “recognition deficit” in the workplace at large. He cited a survey that keyed into two critical findings. First that “82% of employed Americans feel that their supervisors don’t recognize them enough” and second that “40% of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often”.

Those may just be words, but think back to the last time you were truly recognized for work that you felt you did a good job on. How did that feel? It’s clear that there is an incredible amount of motivational energy in recognition, and it’s such a simple thing to tap into.


A good employee is looking for more out of their work than a paycheck. If you believe that your people have that in them (and you should if they are the kind of team worth hiring) then encourage that. Find ways to show them that their work matters to the greater whole, and they will respond.

You can go well beyond simple compliments and congratulations too. Your employees want to feel like a part of what you’re doing so give them all the information they need to understand your business and your vision for the future. As David puts it, “The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care”.

An incredibly effective way to do this is to give them clear goals and communicate how those tasks will be in service to the greater mission. With those goals set, your employees can begin taking ownership over their small piece of the puzzle. That kind of investment can do so much to encourage motivated, good work.

Here’s one last idea. We’ve talked before about how powerful handwritten thank you notes can be as a means to build lasting relationships with clients, customers, and investors; there’s no reason why employees should be left out of that equation.

In this digital age, people crave personal connections more than ever and a thank you note is a great way to foster that.

If your employee can see your appreciation is more than just a token gesture then they may respond better. If you can help it, show them that you recognize them as an individual with something personal.

Recognition doesn’t cost any money and it’s incredibly easy. Just remember that the next time your employee does something that your company needs, show them in some small way how much it mattered. Chances are that after you do that, they will be working harder and better for you than ever.

— ZK

Ed Lynes13p5Comment